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Note by the Director-General on Streamlining FAO1

25. The Council had before it a Note by the Director-General 2 setting forth the measures he proposed, or had already taken, subject to Council approval, with a view to streamlining the Organization. The Council considered this Note in conjunction with the comments of the Programme and Finance Committees. 3

26. The Council endorsed the particular importance attached by the Director-General to the policy advisory function of FAO, and approved the measures he had taken to strengthen the Organization's capacity to perform effectively in this area. The concept of integrated rural development, as an approach towards the objective enshrined in the Constitution of “bettering the condition of rural populations”, was recognized as an important one which should be given high priority. The need for going more deeply into this concept was underlined, and the suggestion was made that models of integrated rural development suitable for different environments and circumstances should be developed.

27. The Council also attached importance to the programme of country perspective studies already launched on a pilot basis by the Director-General. The need for linking these studies as closely as possible to the field programme was emphasized. In this connection the Council felt that a most important function of FAO was that of carrying out action programmes at the field level, and it was felt that for this purpose it might be necessary to decentralize staff from Headquarters in Rome to regional offices, and to field programmes. The Council stressed the need to rotate as far as possible staff between Headquarters and the field. The Director-General reported that in the two years from to 1971 the number of staff moving from Headquarters to the field, or vice versa, had approximately doubled.

28. The Council noted that, under the pressure of the financial crisis facing the Organization, the Director-General had already put into effect a series of staff redeployment measures. The Council agreed with the comment made jointly by the Programme and Finance Committees 4 that in principle the Committees and Council should have been consulted about the major changes involved, but it recognized that in the circumstances of the financial situation the Director-General was obliged to take immediate action. In approving the measures taken by the Director-General, and commending him for the savings effected, the Council requested that any future changes of substantial importance be submitted in the normal way for advance scrutiny by the Programme and Finance Committees, and approval by Council. Some members felt that the changes so far made should be regarded only as a first step towards the further razionalization of the structure of the Organization. Others felt that the re-organization of 1968 and the current changes had produced tension and uncertainty in the staff, and it was important for morale, and hence for output, that there now be a period of stability in the general structure of the Organization.

29. Among the specific structural changes made by the Director-General, several members commented on the separation of marketing and credit from cooperatives, and their new location in a Marketing and Credit Service in the Agricultural Services Division, where they would be more closely linked to work on production, processing and distribution. The Council endorsed the suggestion of the Programme Committee 5 that these arrangements should be examined at a later stage after some experience has been gained with them. The Council also felt that the Evaluation Service, which had been transferred to the Development Department, should be attached directly to the Office of the Assistant Director-General as recommended by the Programme Committee rather than being placed in the Area Service Division.

1 CL 59/PV/5, CL 59/PV/6 and CL 59/PV/20
2 CL 59/25, CL 59/25-Add.1 and CL 59/25-Add.2
3 CL 59/22, paras. 1–10, 24–35 and 158–166
4 CL 59/22, para. 1.
5 CL 59/22, para. 34

30. The Council endorsed the revised programme structure set forth in CL 59/25-Add.1, which had already received the approval of the Programme and Finance Committees, for implementation as from 1 January 1973.

31. At the conclusion of its debate the Council stated that the “crisis of confidence”, which existed not only in FAO but throughout the United Nations system, mentioned by the Programme Committee in its report, 1 could be overcome both by effective leadership on the part of the governing bodies and the Director-General whose orientation to the solution of these problems, the Council considered satisfactory. The image, and the long-term future, of FAO depended on the performance of high-quality work of value to Member Nations, and the Council wished this objective to be met.

1 CL 59/25, para. 21

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